World wine production fell this year to its lowest level in six decades due to a succession of frosts, droughts and deluge rains, with significant declines in South America and Spain, according to an estimate by the International Organization of Vine and Wine (OIV) published this Tuesday.
Global volume fell by 7% in 2023 compared to last year, according to the OIV’s first estimates for 2023.
France kept its production stable and is once again the world’s largest producer in volume, ahead of Italy, where production fell by 12%, and Spain (-14%).
All major South American wine-producing countries recorded a significant drop in production compared to 2022.
In Chile, the largest producer in the southern hemisphere, the volume of wine is 20% lower than last year’s high production and 18% lower than its five-year average. The harvest was severely affected by forest fires and drought.
In the valleys of central Chile, land of Carmenere, Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, wine producers harvest at night, resort to horse manure and rescue old techniques to face the lack of water and the changes in the climate.
After more than a decade of drought, winegrowers in the Colchagua and Cachapoal valleys, one of the regions with the highest wine production in Chile, about 200 km from Santiago, learned to live with less water.
“We are returning to practices that we probably had before, but on a larger scale and in a systematic way,” Soledad Meneses, head of communications at Viña Conosur, a subsidiary of Concha y Toro, the largest producer in Latin America, told AFP in August.
Also affected by spring frosts and hailstorms, Argentina’s wine production only reached 8.8 million hectoliters (-23%). This represents one of the lowest volumes recorded in its history.
Production also fell sharply in Brazil (-30%) and in Uruguay (-34%), according to the first estimates of the OIV.
Among the other major wine producers in the southern hemisphere, Australia saw its production plummet by 24% and South Africa by 10%.
Spain remains the third largest producer in the world, with an estimated volume of 307 million hectoliters, the lowest in the last 20 years, as a result of a serious drought and extreme temperatures that hit the vineyards hard.
The phenomena that affected the vines this year are very disparate and it has not yet been proven that they are directly related to climate change, said Iñaki García de Cortazar-Atauri, from the Inrae agricultural research institute.
The consequences of heavy rains in Italy, for example, are also related to the artificialization of land, this specialist in the impact of climate change on agriculture explained to AFP.
But, “we note that there are more and more recurring extreme phenomena,” such as heat waves or torrential rains in certain areas, in addition to long-known pests, such as mildew.
Total wine production is expected to reach between 241.7 and 246 million hectoliters, according to information collected by the OIV in 29 countries that represent 94% of world production.
Some countries recorded an increase in production, starting with the United States (+12%), which maintained its position as the world’s fourth largest producer, thanks to cool temperatures and abundant winter rains in the Napa and Sonoma wine regions.
However, the decline in production is not necessarily bad news, according to the OIV.
“With global consumption in decline and high inventories in many regions of the world, the expected low production could rebalance the global market,” the organization notes.